Well That Escalated Quickly: When My Son Got the Stomach Bug

I never realized how much I took my kids’ good health for granted. We’ve managed to skirt by most flu seasons with barely as much of cold.

Sometimes they’ll get a little cough for a few days, or get a bad runny nose, but fevers have been a rare occurrence.

I guess it’s made me a little overconfident in some ways. I don’t worry about them catching things. I mean, we still use good handwashing techniques and all that good stuff, but I’m not paranoid about them getting sick from other people, or crazy with the sanitiser gel.

Suuuuure, your sick kids can play with my kids. No biggie. A few germs never hurt anybody… (There probably some exceptions to that).

Anyway, the downside to their awesome immune system is that when something does go down, I start to panic. All those new-parent paranoia feelings start to go back and I begin to question everything.

A couple days ago our son came down with a stomach bug. The first time he threw up I thought maybe it was his breakfast.

Two cinnamon waffles, popcorn and Powerade may not have been the best combination.

He was crying and didn’t want me to put him down. I could tell he wasn’t feeling well and I tried to rock and sing to him. Normally singing helps. Just as I got to my second round of Wheels on the Bus, he puked all over me.

It was so gross. Then he had the nerve to look at me and say “YUCK!” and begged me to put him down. He wouldn’t let me touch him until I changed my shirt and showed him I was no longer covered in his vomit.

I did my best to clean up and spray random carpet cleaners to get as much red powerade out as I could but I eventually gave up and texted my husband to be prepared to run the carpet cleaner when he got home.

My daughter was upset because I had told her we’d go to the children’s museum that day.

Secretly I was a little glad for the change of plans because it was pouring rain and the weather wasn’t as good of an excuse as a sick brother. She understood and said she’d help me take care of him, while occasionally having her own meltdowns because of all the attention he was getting.

After I cleaned Big T up I put him down for a nap. He seemed to be feeling better. But when he woke up crying an hour later I brought him into my room to lay in bed with me.

He barfed all over me again.

And again, he didn’t want to be bothered with me and all my grossness.

I stripped us both down and got a bath ready. It took a lot of convincing to get him in with me, but eventually he caved. Again, my daughter was upset that she wasn’t getting the same attention, but she did a good job of cheering her brother up.

When we got out of the tub I dried off, grabbed his new shirt (tags still on cause I’m so very smart) and pulled him out of the bathtub. Two steps into my bedroom he looked at me and puked again.

“YUCK! YUCK! YUCK!” My son said whining and looking at me. How dare I carry him while I’m covered in gross?

I about-faced and put him right back in the tub. He was happy there in an empty tub for a good twenty minutes.

sick baby boy

I felt so bad for him, and was finally crossing the line of “aww, poor thing” to real concern.

My husband came home a short while later and I was in my fourth or fifth outfit of the day. I didn’t bother adding a bra or unnecessary accessories I’d have to take off and wash at any moment.

“Has he eaten anything?” He asked me.

“Not really since this morning. He had a big breakfast, and he’s been throwing up everything since then.”

“Well we don’t want him to get dehydrated,” my husband said.

“I know, I was thinking we could get some Pedialyte,” I sounded confident, like I totally knew what I was talking about, thanks to Facebook and Twitter to responses to my sick kid post. It had not even been 12 hours and he was barely starting to run a low grade fever, so I wasn’t too worried just yet.

A neighbor was sweet enough to lend us her bottle. They had just gotten over a stomach bug.

My husband tried to act like he wasn’t phased by it all. Normally he’d be gagging at the thought of vomit, but so far he was keeping his cool.

“This is like nothing compared to what I deal with at work,” he told me.

“Suuuuure,” I said, just as sarcastically as it sounds.

“No really,” he tried to convince me. “He could just throw up all in my face and I’d shower in it like it’s no big deal.”

I laughed at the thought because that had basically been my reality all day.

“Alright well you can hold him after he drinks this stuff.” I said.

As we worked on a gameplan for getting liquids inside our son my husband told me his idea.

“Ok, we’re going to try this. You just get into your bathing suit, so if he throws up again, you’re ready.”

“So I’m ready? I thought it was your turn! You don’t mind bathing in the stuff remember?”

“I was just kidding!”

Kidding about which part?

We tried a small amount of Pedialyte diluted in a bottle. And poor Big T snuck in a pretzel before we could hide them. It didn’t settle well in his tummy.

“Uh oh!” My husband said from the kitchen.

I looked over at him as he looked at our son, knowing what was about to come. And then I heard a waterfall hit the floor. My husband’s face twisted in disgust as he jumped back from the table.

“Don’t just stand there pick him up!” I cried.

I could see the hesitation on his face, but his fatherly instincts or something like that kicked in and he picked Big T up.

As I walked over to grab him, he looked at me and said “yuck!”

“Yes, it’s yucky baby,” I said. But he didn’t want me to hold him.

“He definitely has a correct understanding of the word,” my husband said.

I could tell we were both reaching the point of concern we’ve fortunately rarely come to as parents.

“Check out his mosquito bite,” my husband said as he held our son. We had noticed it yesterday. “What if he has Malaria?

Oh jeez, we’re so pathetic. I thought

Meanwhile poor Lil’ J was severely upset by the lack of attention she was getting, and all of the extra focus on her brother.

So many questions about loving him more than her, and what else are we going to to todays…

I owed her a day. I knew that much. And I silently wondered if families with three kids have less of his dilemma. Do two kids play together while one is sick? How does that work?

We tried another dose of Pedialyte without the water and pretzel and it stayed down before bed. My husband rocked him to sleep and got up with him the next morning. The next day there were no incidents, and yesterday he was totally back to normal. Trying to dive off the couch and sneak out the back door.

“Man, it was easier when he was sick,” my husband said.

Meanwhile my mothering confidence took a hit. I thought my frantic Googling days were long gone with infancy, but it looks like I’m in this for the long haul.

You never stop worrying about your kids. Sometimes it just takes a couple showers in their puke to remember that fact.

Do your kids get sick much? Do you handle it like a champ, or like a wimp?

PS: The next day I took Lil’ J ice skating for the first time. She had time time of her life and no longer feels like the forgotten child.

ice skating girl

{Big T is currently 2 years and 2 months, Lil’ J is 4 years and 10 months.}


Sonia says:

I can tell you that it will happen again.. and you will be prepared better. This was just the beginning. As a mother of 3, each of my girls pass everything to each other so I feel somewhat of an expert BUT…. my motherly advice has an Italian spin on it so it might be weird.

We do white rice/pasta, dry toast, cookies and teeny tiny sips of water… like spoon-feeding water. Also, start lining beds with those urine pads and I just start throwing down towels anywhere they might be. I’d rather rinse towels than scrub carpets. (but we don’t have carpets in Italy so.. hooray for tile flooring!)

I’m glad he’s feeling better. He’s still super adorable when he’s sick.

My worst case: Miss E got the bug and she’s the most delicate of the bunch. She literally spent the entire night puking & pooping simultaneously for 10 minutes from 10pm-1am, then every 30 minutes from 2am-5am. At one point, she looked at me and said, “mommy… help me!” I lost it. It broke my heart and I cried.

Thanks for all of the tips Sonia! Man, I really hope the rest of us don’t get it next. Puking and pooping at the same time sounds like a horror show. Oh man, I’m so sorry your poor baby had to experience that! And yes, their helpless cries are the WORST! Poor thing, I hope she never has to go through that again!

Maria says:

Stomach bugs are HORRRRRRRRIBLE!! We usually all get it every year (public school germs I tell ya). Luckily I don’t think more than two kids have ever had it at the same time but I joke that my favorite kid is whoever can puke in the bowl, LOL.

Oh man! I can’t believe sometimes they get it at the same time, yea that sounds horrible!

Maria says:

*KNOCK ON WOOD* anytime I’ve gotten it, it has NOT been at the same time I was cleaning up after someone else. Thank goodness!

Monica says:

Obviously you completely overreacted by getting all worried and searching Google.

I, on the other hand, am cool as a cucumber with parenting… you should learn from me.

For example, when Harlow woke up throwing up with a fever in the middle of the night this past December, all I did was take a deep breathe and… took her to the emergency room. Where they pretty much just gave me a smirk & the side-eye and monitored her for a couple of hours and sent her home. Let me mention here, she threw up twice. TWICE. lol…

Monica I’m dying laughing! Oh my goodness that is so funny. Ok, this makes me feel a little better!… Ok maybe a lot better. haha.

Delia James says:

Oh the dreaded stomach bug- the very bane of my existence every fall and winter. I have 5 kids and it normally tears through our house like a tornado. This year was the worst. We had 3 stomach bugs in the span of 7 weeks. It was horrible. And all 5 kids overlapped with the vomiting every time which pretty much made me want to run away from home. Thankfully we have it down to a fine art now. When the first one falls victim they get a trash bag lined trash can to carry around with them, a bottle of Powerade, and a little pack of wet wipes. Then I go ahead and prepare trash cans for the rest of the kids because it’s only a matter of time. I can’t do a puke bowl, it grosses me out. When they puke in the trash bag I can just tie it off and throw it in the outside trash can. My youngest is 4 and it’s much easier once they get old enough to understand the concept and also to recognize the feeling when they’re about to throw up. I just let the virus run it’s course and don’t worry unless they can’t keep even small sips of liquid down for more than 15 hours in a row, spike a fever over 103, or complain of unusual pain/symptoms. You’ll be better prepared next time. Stomach bugs are a crash course in parenting 🙂

Ok, LOVE your trash bag idea Delia. I’ll have to remember that next time. This was his first stomach bug and he was young to tell me, and my daughter hasn’t complained about not feeling well yet so i’m hoping it skips the rest of us. But seriously, gonna remember this, thanks mama!

marie says:

My kids are crazy sick people. My son could be running a fever and have a serious bug and he will run around the house playing like a mad man, stop, throw up, then start running around again. It’s literally CRAZY. If he ever gets sick to the point of wanting to lay down, we go to the hospital lol

Haha! Oh goodness that’s funny!

AmyRyb says:

Stomach bugs are the worst! I’d have been freaking out, too, after having it going on all day. Usually my kids’ bugs have been contained to a few hours…often starting between dinner and bedtime and going through the middle of the night. My best advice, honestly, is to have a couple spare comforters around. The second my kids get sick, they hang out/sleep on the comforter, with a bucket close by and lots of towels. When they get sick, we aim for the bucket and hope that anything that doesn’t quite make it lands on a towel, which is much easier to clean up. The comforter has a little more padding than a blanket, and it keeps them off the hard-to-clean furniture. It’s easy to move from their room to the living room, and really does keep the mess contained for the most part. But it’s so sad when your kids are sick and there’s nothing you can do. The first time our first child got sick, he was 18 months and puked for about six hours. We got nervous and took him into the ER…which was right when it finally let up. Silly parents! Hope it stays contained and no one else gets it!

That’s exactly why I started freaking out! With myself and my daughter before it was one or two episodes then we were ok the next day, his lasted a bit longer. LOVE your comforter idea. We have some old ugly ones too. Glad I’m not the only one who gets overly nervous, haha. And glad your son was ok too!

Timber says:

Stomach bugs are awful, it is very true. I’ve been puked on soooooo many times. My kids always get clingy when they’re sick, and I can’t say I blame them. But if your child has a stomach bug and wants to be held, here’s my very best tip, put a towel on you and roll with it .

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Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget


I'm a former journalist, and lifelong creator striving to make the world a better place. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day by cherishing our individuality and celebrating our differences.

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